Friday 26 December 2014

Week 29: Swim in the sea

Well, this isn't something I even considered I'd be doing at this time of year but while on holiday in Italy it started with a paddle, then after a little thought and consideration (mainly around swimming/clothing options) I took a swim in the Mediterranean on Boxing Day - along with three others!

We rapidly attracted a crowd of bemused and amused locals and tourists, who despite the cold had suddenly found the foreshore 'the place to be' in Positano.

A prosecco to celebrate - although a hot chocolate would have been more warming.

Saturday 20 December 2014

Week 28: Travel Abroad - Amalfi Coast

My first foreign trip this year - Walking the Amalfi coast with Exodus Travels and a lovely group.

Amalfi Coast




Walk of the Gods

A great trip - highly recommended but be warned there are thousands of steps and you're either going down or coming up them.  However, I've come back a lot fitter (and a few pounds heavier) than when I left

Sunday 14 December 2014

Week 27: Geminid Meteor Shower

English: A meteor during the peak of the 2009 ...

You can't beat the sight of a shooting star and it's worth staying up late for and getting a good viewing point

In December the Geminid meteor shower takes place.  It's the last one of the year and this weekend I stood out in an almost clear night with a crisp frost on the ground and saw a dozen streak overhead in just a few minutes - too cold to stay out for long.

Some very bright with long trails, others nothing more than a brief flash.

If you missed them in December there are several opportunities for star gazers and meteor watchers to see them in 2015.  The major showers are:

Quadrantids in January - only a few days
Perseids in July/August
Leonids in November
Geminids in December

They often have a peak in the middle when up to 100 meteors an hour can be seen.  It depends on a having a clear sky, minimal light pollution and how full the moon is as to how many you'll see.

Meteor showers will generally radiate from the constellation for which they're named.  Find out when and where to see them by taking a look at MeteorWatch or following @VirtualAstro on Twitter.

A meteor during the peak of the Leonid Meteor Shower. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Friday 12 December 2014

Week 27: The Brighton Wheel - almost

So close.  Almost made it on to the Brighton Wheel but the weather had other ideas.  The Brighton Chamber had organised a group visit to the wheel but due to the gale force winds it was cancelled.

Sunday 7 December 2014

Week 26: Comedy - The Treason Show

I first saw the Treason Show years ago in Brighton.  Just happened to be in Shoreham and saw they were on at the Ropetackle Centre.  Still the same mix of topical comedy, wit and political satire - skits, songs and just a little bit naughty.

Performed by a multiple group and written by a team of writers.  The laughs developed in Part 1 and were coming thick and fast in Part 2 (definitely the better half).  Catch them in Shoreham and Brighton.

Thursday 4 December 2014

Week 26: Kingfisher!

Common Kingfisher (also known as Eurasian King...
Yeah - got to see a kingfisher!

One of our more colourful birds and not one that many people get to see as they usually flash past like a turquoise streak before you realise it.

I was lucky enough to see one on Widewater Lagoon in Lancing - not just once but several times and not just a fleeting glimpse but sitting on a fence with a fish!

They use favourite perches along a stretch of water from where to fish or to eat their prey, so if you know of one you stand a good chance of seeing one - even at this time of year.

Sheer delight!

(no this isn't my photo!)
Common Kingfisher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday 30 November 2014

Week 25: Yorkshire house move

Transport of a house (photo taken in New Zealand)

Not me but friends moving house.

They had a great company of movers who had done a lot of the work and gone over and above usual moving duties by the time I arrived, so there wasn't quite as much unpacking, furniture moving or putting together of things as I was expecting.

Still a few things left to help with - such as:

  • Shopping for new curtains.
  • Putting up a curtain pole with a very flash electric drill, complete with light - handy for those dark corners ... it's still up.
  • Setting up the PC and printer - took me back to my techie days.
  • Unpacked and sort through a few more boxes, finding storage places - a lot less storage than their previous house
  • Clambered up the loft ladder to store a few boxes in the attic.

And importantly get the bird feeders stocked - which were quickly visited by a steady stream of garden birds and a few woodland species too - nuthatch and greater spotted woodpecker.  Lovely to watch them while having breakfast.

Several dog walks - up hill and down, having been collected from the kennels where they avoided adding to the packing chaos.

Travelled door to almost door by public transport - sometimes a lot easier on a long journey than driving, especially when it involves the M25 and M1!

Moving house (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saturday 22 November 2014

Week 24: Learn a Language - Parlo Italiano

English: The Rosetta Stone in the British Muse...
While I'm not expecting to learn a language in a week I can at least make a start.

Italian is a language I've always wanted to learn, it has a lovely sound to it.  I can manage a few words - just the basics like hello, goodbye, please and thank you and there are many Italian words we're already familiar with, even if it's only from our local Italian restaurant.

The internet has made it easier to learn a language - a few years ago we had were limited to books and audio-tapes, now we have access to the multi-cultural internet:
  • Get translations using Babelfish - often more amusing than accurate
  • Access and download any number of podcasts to help you learn a new language
  • Install language learning apps like Busuu or Rosetta Stone.
  • Listen to foreign language radio
  • Download foreign language films or watch online TV
  • Access learning websites like (mostly archived but still useful) or DuoLingo.
Many languages have similar roots (like Latin or German), making it easier to pick up or understand words and phrases.  Grammar may take a little more time as, unlike English, they use masculine and feminine forms for nouns and adjectives.  Verbs take different forms depending on 'who' is taking action.

You don't need to be fluent but being able to speak a few basic phrases helps when visiting another country.

The Rosetta Stone in the British Museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday 16 November 2014

Week 23: Film Preview - Emptying The Skies

Not quite the red carpet but a red line to Screen 2 at the Rich Mix Cinema for a screening of the documentary film "Emptying the Skies" by Douglas Kass, inspired by the article from New Yorker journalist Jonathan Franzen.

Franzen set off around Europe, along with members of the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) to witness at first hand the large scale and illegal poaching and slaughter of millions of birds for the table, as they migrate from Africa up into and across Europe.

These tiny birds - many of which are familiar to our gardens are considered a delicacy ambelopoulia, and killed in their thousands. Those not suitable for eating are left for dead and discarded regardless of the fact they are protected and many are on the endangered list.  Robins, blackcaps, flycatchers, warblers, buntings, finches, thrushes, nightingales, cuckoos, turtledoves and even small owls and hawks.

It is seen and justified as a 'tradition' and a right.  What's the harm in taking only a few small birds, they say.  But for birds that already declining due to habitat loss and pressure from development, those 'few small birds' add up to thousands being slaughtered on a daily basis during their annual migration.

While I was aware of the hunters in Malta who shoot anything that flies over for sport, I had no idea of the scale of trapping that occurs in Cyprus, Italy and France.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Week 22: Brighton Royal Pavilion Ice Rink

Ice-skating in the lovely location of the Brighton Royal Pavilion.  Part of a social event hosted by the Brighton Chamber and a chance to get on the ice before the rink opens to the public at the weekend.

This is the fifth year that the ice rink has been set up in front of the Royal Pavilion and it provides a very twinkly, scenic and festive backdrop.

I haven't been on the ice for years.  In fact the last time was at the old ice rink in Brighton Square and before that up in London.  A shaky start hanging on to the handrail for the first few circuits, gradually getting the hang of this incredibly slippery surface but managing to get round unaided for a couple of rounds before quitting which I was ahead and unbruised.

Not that I watch it but total admiration for the Dancing On Ice celebrities.

Great food and drink available if you don't want to skate or after you have.  Good fun and highly recommended.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Week 21: Caffeine free October

Yeah - celebrating in the garden with my first coffee for a month in the late Autumn sunshine. Glorious ... the coffee and the sunshine.

No withdrawals and didn't miss it quite as much as I expected - just kept drinking the herbal teas instead and didn't even mind meetings with others enjoying their caffeine hit.

And then my first tea - with cake of course!

Please visit my Macmillan Justgiving page and sponsor me for the price of a latte (or a cuppa). Thank you. :)

Monday 3 November 2014

Week 21: A bit of pampering

Another one for the treat list this week and a bit of pampering with a long overdue back and shoulder massage and a facial.  Cancer treatments take it out of you to say nothing of the hormone treatment. 

Thursday 23 October 2014

Week 20: Working Through Cancer

Well, not something you get to do every day - I've just published my book up on Kindle.  Out in Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  As I've mentioned previously, it's been a work in progress almost since I was diagnosed over a year ago and I hope it will help others going through something similar.

Available to download from and  You can get it for free between 24th-28th October.

There's also the Working Through Cancer website to go with the book on which I'll be adding resources and blog posts.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Week 19: TED Talk - the future of early cancer detection

An evening of viewing a few TED Talks - many of them are amazing and inspiring but this one in particularly struck a chord.

Jorge Soto's talk on the future of early cancer detection - genius!

If you've not yet come across the amazing world of TED - their site and various events they organise around the world are definitely worth watching.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Working Through Cancer

While working through my own personal diagnosis and treatment I started writing a journal.  This is the result.

Available on Kindle shortly - proceeds go towards three cancer charities.  If you would like access as soon as it's published - just enter your details below and I'll let you know:

Working Through Cancer 

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Thursday 9 October 2014

Week 18: A Little Light Reading

Another London meeting and a bit of culture with a stop at the British Library. Situated between Euston and Kings Cross it's an amazing place with the biggest bookcases I've ever seen.

A great place to take a break and get on with some work before my meeting.  Plenty of seating around the main atrium area and cafe with places to plug in and free wi-fi.

I had time to look at the Historical collection with amazing documents such as the Magna Carta, Gutenberg Bible, sacred texts, maps, hand-written notes and manuscripts from Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Laurie Lee and many others.

There are their Reading Rooms for research, free exhibitions and Definitely worth a visit.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Week 17-21: It's October - GoSober, Stoptober

As I neither smoke or really drink - going Sober in October didn't really fit the bill - instead I'm giving up caffeine!

So no tea, no coffee for a whole month - starting today.  Now that's a much bigger ask ...  I love the smell of coffee and enjoy a morning latte, although I rarely drink coffee after lunchtime but love an afternoon cuppa (with or without cake!)

I will still be available to meet for a variety of herbal teas (and if cake is involved - although in moderation!). :)

Good luck to everyone who has already signed up for Go Sober or Stoptober and if you'd like to either join me or donate to a very worthy cause just click ---> HERE

Go Sober in October - and support Macmillan

Stop smoking

Sunday 28 September 2014

Week 16: Macmillan Coffee Morning x 2

Along with 1000s of others around the country - I was helping out and attending a Macmillan Coffee Morning.  Organised by Janine Quinn and Debbie Stevens, we had coffee, cake and raffle prizes

We raised £287 on the day from the sale of tickets, raffle prizes and donations.

On Saturday morning I went round to friends for another coffee morning where they'd baked all the totally delicious and scrumptious cakes, biscuits and tray bakes and raised £150.

If you didn't get a chance to attend one on the day or over the weekend, you can donate to Macmillan - just click here.

Related sites:

Macmillan Coffee Morning - check the current total.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Week 16: Got A Haircut!

Well, this might not seem like a big deal but when you've gone from being completely bald to having hair again, that first cut is another milestone on the road to recovery and knowing that you're through it and life is returning to normal.

One positive thing that's come out of this - I love my new shorter haircut and judging by the comments, so does everyone else.

My newest image courtesy of the fabulous Stephen Cotterell

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Week 15: Stop And Smell The Roses

On my way back from running a workshop in London, I took the opportunity to stop off at Nymans, just off the A23.

Herbaceous border, Nymans
After a quick walk around the gardens to admire the herbaceous borders which were totally bare in the Spring but filled to overflowing now.  I was after a few ideas for my own garden for Autumn colour. Very definitely stopping to smell the roses in the rose garden, most had gone over but there a few delicious musk and old English roses to sniff.

Heather garden, Nymans
I then settled in to do some work with a cup of tea in the Coffee shop before taking the scenic route back in to Brighton for my afternoon meeting.

It made perfect sense and was a good opportunity to take time out:

- I avoided the traffic through the roadworks heading back in to Brighton.
- I got a late lunch break in lovely surroundings.
- I was able to get on with work away from the distractions of the office.
- I didn't spend time going back to the office and then driving back in to Brighton later.

Saturday 13 September 2014

Week 14: Cycling, walking and the new YHA

The Tour of Britain passed through Newhaven and Lewes on Saturday, just a short walk or cycle ride from where I live.

I intended to cycle over (that being my #52Things for the week) but my bike having been in the shed for the last year wasn't road (or bridleway) worthy, so Plan B was to head on foot to a spot on the road between Newhaven and Lewes (C7).

So the cyclists on the Tour of Britain were cycling and I ended up walking.  Picnicing on the side of the road while waiting for them to come through.  It was a bit of a wait but eventually the police motorbikes came through, stopping traffic and blocking off the numerous lanes leading on the C7.

Finally the five lead bikes came through - followed about 5 minutes later by the first part of the peleton and about another five minutes for the second part of the peleton and a few more minutes until the final rider came through.  Great to see even if they do whizz by in a blur of wheels and lycra.

As the road cleared I walked into Southease and across the river to the newest YHA South Downs with a cafe - great stop for tea and cake - looking out from the courtyard to the Ouse and the Downs.

Courtyard Cafe, South Downs YHA
It's right on the South Downs Way, so a perfect stopping point if you just happen to be cycling or walking the South Downs or doing a route along the Ouse between Lewes and Newhaven.

Southease Bridge, River Ouse
Back along the River Ouse to Piddinghoe and then a walk up along the track into the back of Peacehaven through the area where they shoot pheasant and partridge.  I found a dead red-legged partridge which was missed by the shoot and the dogs.  Finally back home - a round trip of 8.5 miles.

Sunday 7 September 2014

Week 13: Back Volunteering on the South Downs

My first serious task out with the South Downs Volunteers since all my treatments finished and a chance to drive the landrover.

After a busy week in Kent, I should have planned better and had the whole weekend off but as I was the designated driver, so didn't want to drop out at the last minute and anyway, I thought I could have an easier time and not overdo it.

However, only two of us turned up!  Ah well, maybe not such an easy day.

The work site was just round the corner in Newhaven on the Ouse Valley Nature Reserve between Newhaven and Seaford, putting in a line of post and wire fencing so that the cattle could be moved in to graze the area.

We joined an enthusiastic bunch of volunteers from the Seven Sisters area who were already hard at work when we arrived, so there were six of us in all.

If you enjoy the outdoors or just being active - get out and volunteer.  There are plenty of wildlife and conservation groups around the country looking for willing people to help out.

Saturday 6 September 2014

Week 13: Odyssey Challenge

Five days in the Kent countryside on a magical adventure with Odyssey.

Can't say any more than that as part of the success, benefit and enjoyment of the course is that a level of intrigue is maintained.  Just to say I ticked a few things off while I was away but I won't say which ... :)

They have sand on their beaches!

It just goes to show that a change is as good as a rest and getting out into the great outdoors is good for the mind, body and soul as well as exchanging laughter and tears.

I've come back realising that my energy levels are better than I thought, more motivation to get fit and active, a zest for life and a desire to help raise funds to enable others to participate in the Challenge.  Watch this space ...

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Week 12: Kilnsey Show

A gloriously sunny day and the annual event that is the Kilnsey Show.  Taking place in the Yorkshire Dales - Upper Wharfdale and set under the imposing Kilnsey Crag.

A traditional agricultural show for the farming community with the judging of sheep, cattle and working horses, along with food, clothing and plenty to keep everyone fed, watered and entertained throughout the day.

There are sheepdog trials, gun dogs, dry stone wall building, sheep shearing, birds of prey and plenty of tractors - old and new.  Activities for children, a cookery masterclasses and a farmers market all finished off with fell races up and down Kilnsey Crag.

Prize winning Swaledales, Kilnsey Show
One of the 'highlights' was the Kilnsey Velodrome.  After the success of the Tour de France, Kilnsey had their own take on the tour with locals stepping (or pedalling) forward for their turn around the field.  Hilarious and competitive but TeamGB have nothing to worry about!

Sunday 24 August 2014

Week 11: Yorkshire, hills, raptors and a goshawk

Pendle Hill from Sharp Haw
A lovely extended Bank Holiday weekend up in Yorkshire and my first proper hill walk.  Just a short distance out of Skipton and a walk from Bog Lane up and around Sharp Haw.  Ideal weather - not too hot or too cold and a clear, sunny day.  There was a purple haze of heather up on the hill tops, with views across to Pendle Hill in the distance and great across the Yorkshire Dales.

Walking down the other side of Sharp Haw and through the woods, as well as a peregrine and a distant buzzard, I spotted a goshawk!  At least that's the only hawk I can think it can have been.  Bigger than a sparrowhawk and without the sharp wings of a peregrine.  Also spotted a kestrel hovering up on the hill, so definitely not that.  Lovely to see as there are plenty of grouse moors around the area.

Harvest time and the combine was out in the fields as we walked back to the car.  A relay of trucks following the harvester and gathering the wheat.  A hare ran out in to the stubble

Friday 22 August 2014

Week 10: Red Kite sightings

A Red Kite (Milvus milvus). Deutsch: Ein Rotmi...

Driving up to Birdfair on Thursday afternoon, while going round the M25, I spotted a Red Kite just before the junction onto the M1.

I know you can easily see them on the M40, so this isn't too far away from there but still nice to see.

While I didn't get to see the Osprey at Rutland Water, I did get to see another Red Kite while having breakfast on Sunday morning.  It flew low over the field next to the B&B where we were staying and had us all dashing to the windows for a better look.

You can vote for the red kite and up to six as part of the Vote National Bird Campaign.

A Red Kite (Milvus milvus). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)